Review: Detective Comics 23.3 – Scarecrow: Prelude to Arkham War
Detective Comics 23.3: Scarecrow was written by Peter Tomasi with art by Szymon Kudranski
Scarecrow takes over this Villains Month issue of Detective Comics and you don’t want to miss it. This issue takes place soon after the events of Trinity War and Forever Evil as the Secret Society has taken over the world. Gotham’s new mayor, Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot, divvied up Gotham to several of Batman’s greatest foes; Mr. Freeze, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and other notorious villains all claimed sections of the city for themselves. Scarecrow, on the other hand, isn’t quite satisfied with the way things are going.
The Good: Scarecrow is in top form in this issue as he travels through the various boroughs of Gotham controlled by each of Batman’s rogues. Peter Tomasi writes Scarecrow wonderfully, showcasing the brilliant mind of Dr. Crane while maintaining the character’s menace. On top of that, Tomasi was able to highlight each of the different villains’ personalities spot-on within the brief scenes they occupy. Mr. Freeze and The Riddler were particularly well-done, if you ask me. As Scarecrow encounters each villain, details are revealed about their plans and possible roles each one will play during the upcoming “Arkham War.” Scarecrow seems to have plans for them all. Szymon Kudranski did the art for this issue and holy masterpiece, Batman! This issue is beautiful. It is dark, eerie, and it actually feels like you’re in Gotham during a never-ending eclipse. It’s like Scarecrow reached out, grabbed the reader, and threw us into one of his fear-toxin-induced nightmares. There are a lot of individual panels in this book that stand out: The Riddler peering over the pages of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” Killer Croc dragging a victim back into the sewers through a manhole, and of course that final splash page reveal of the new skyline of Gotham City. Tomasi and Kudranski created tense, underlying suspense that makes the reader anxious to find out what happens next.
The Bad: Honestly, I don’t have many bad things to say about this one. There weren’t many action scenes in this issue but that’s okay- it didn’t need them. This issue wasn’t an origin story. It wasn’t supposed to be some fast-paced stand-alone story starring Scarecrow. If you were expecting that then you might have been disappointed. But that wasn’t the point of this book. When reading Detective Comics 23.3 as the introductory prelude to “Arkham War,” there aren’t many flaws here at all. This book is about setting up the framework for Gotham City in this new, post-”Trinity War” world. By the time I reached the end, I was completely satisfied and ready for “Arkham War” to begin immediately.
The Verdict: Detective Comics 23.3 was one of the better single issues to come out of Villains Month. It ties into the events of “Forever Evil” and keeps the story chugging along into “Arkham War.” It doesn’t waste time with any filler origin story or background flashbacks. Writer Peter Tomasi characterizes Batman’s villains very well without letting any of them steal the show from Scarecrow. Szymon Kudranski’s art has the paranoid, claustrophobic and ominous feel of a city trapped in a nightmare. It was fun to read and just as much fun to look at. I can’t wait to see what Tomasi has in store for next month!